If the Cleveland Clinic is going to treat the act of smoking as an illness or a habit related to health that is undesirable and in need of medical (physical or mental) attention, to the extent that the Clinic offers smoking cessation methods to its current employees who smoke, then they should be consistent in their approach to recruiting employees who may otherwise be qualified, except for the fact that they smoke.
What am I talking about?
Read this statement:
Wellness is a somewhat intangible concept, which makes selling it to employees a daunting task. For that reason, companies toss out incentives that workers understand – such as cash and discounted health care premiums – to incite workers to get healthier.
Yet if businesses are betting on wellness incentives to act as a game-changer in the health care cost area, analysts say organizations must be creative and understand how workers define wellness and good health.
The article that follows these two paragraphs, from the July issue of Employee Benefit News (not yet online but should be available as a pdf eventually from that website), doesn’t say anything about not hiring people who smoke, or aren’t well. It explains how to be where the client – in this case, the employee (and I’m extending it to potential, qualified employee) – is.
And this is the number one cardinal rule of dealing with these cross-over issues that involve physical and mental well-being: you must meet the person where they are, not force them to come to what you want.
How does this apply to the Clinic?
If the Clinic’s goal truly is wellness – that is, the individual’s wellness (as opposed to the wellness of the Clinic’s bottom line, which, yesterday, the new Chief Wellness Officer for the Clinic, Dr. Michael Roizen, said on WCPN’s Sound of Ideas was not the issue) – then refusing to hire anyone who smokes, while still allowing employees who do smoke to remain on staff, fails miserably in addressing an individual’s health.
Those folks will continue to smoke – they just won’t be employed by the Clinic.
If the Clinic really wanted to impact wellness, as well as hire qualified individuals, they’d actually put smokers at the top of the list for new hires. And then offer them incentives, as described in the Benefit News article, and increase the number of people who successfully quit smoking.
Now that would show a true dedication to wellness.